Thousands of Asheville residents suffer injuries in car accidents every year. Most of these people are able to recover and return to their normal lives after a period of rest. However, many people are not as fortunate, suffering injuries that leave them disabled, unable to work, and rapidly accruing medical debt as a result of their accidents. Injuries that leave victims in such a state are called catastrophic injuries, which means that they are unable to ever lead the life that they led before their accidents.
We’ve recently defined catastrophic injuries and discussed their effects on victims’ lives on our Asheville personal injury blog. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the common catastrophic injuries people suffer in car accidents.
Traumatic brain injuries in car accidents
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most common injuries in all car accidents. This is partly because they range in severity from minor concussions, which may go unnoticed by victims and their family members, to more serious injuries that result in loss of brain function, disability, or death. The Centers for Disease Control found that car accidents are the third-leading cause of emergency room department visits for traumatic brain injuries (TBI). About 30% of deaths resulting from injuries involve TBI.
TBI can occur when sudden, violent blows to the head fracture the skull and injure the brain, cause the brain to “bounce” inside the skull, or cause other abnormal conditions that harm brain tissue. The extreme forces involved in car accidents can cause intracranial hemorrhaging or other complications that leave victims at immediate risk of dying. People who suffer severe TBI can lose cognitive function, experience emotional or sleep disturbance, lose their ability to see or hear, and experience other profound, debilitating effects.
The most severe TBI can leave car accident victims in immediate need of physical and occupational therapy in order to resume even basic self-care tasks. They may also need in-home supportive care from professionals or from family members, who must often give up their own work or other pursuits to care for their loved one. People with this level of disability are rarely able to return to work at all.
Catastrophic injuries to the neck and spine in car accidents
Injuries to the neck and spine often damage the spinal cord, which carries neural transmissions from the brain to the rest of the body. A fracture or other injury to spinal or cervical vertebrae – the bone structures that encase and protect the spinal cord from harm – can cause different types of injuries to the spinal cord such as stretching, bruising, or severing completely.
Most people, when thinking of neck and spine injuries, think of injuries that cause partial or complete paralysis. Paralysis occurs when the spinal cord is so damaged that the brain can no longer communicate with other parts of the body. If a victim suffers a paralyzing spinal cord injury at the waist, their body will be paralyzed from the affected vertebrae and down through their legs and feet; if a person suffers such an injury in their neck, they will be paralyzed from the neck down. Paralyzing injuries can have the most profound effects on victims’ lives, often leaving them unable to care for themselves without substantial help throughout the day and night.
Other spinal cord injuries can result in less severe but still disabling effects. For instance, spinal cord edema can result from the physical trauma of a car accident, causing the spinal cord to swell and bleed. This can lead to permanent nerve damage and leave victims without the use of a body part.
Loss of limb in car accidents
The loss of a limb requires car accident victims to make significant adjustments to their lives, from getting acclimated to prosthetic limbs to learning pain management skills for phantom limb pain and other pain resulting from their injury.
There are two ways a person can lose a limb as a result of a car accident: accidental loss as a result of the crash and surgical loss, when a surgeon removes a limb in order to prevent further damage or because a limb cannot be reconstructed or saved. When a person loses a limb at the scene of an accident, they are at immediate risk of massive blood loss, shock, and infection. Any of these conditions can result in complications like brain damage.
Most cases of traumatic or accidental amputation result from car accidents. The violent forces in car accidents can cause metal or other vehicle parts to sever victims’ limbs. Limbs can also be lost by shearing or crushing forces.
Contact an Asheville personal injury attorney after catastrophic car accident injuries
Car accident victims and their families’ lives change in an instant when injuries are catastrophic. In addition to the financial and logistical problems that come with caring for an injured loved one, family relationships may never be the same, particularly in the case of a traumatic brain injury that leaves an accident victim suffering from cognitive or emotional impairment.
The financial loss and noneconomic loss resulting from car accidents often leave families struggling to cope with everyday life. Worse, insurance companies typically make offers that fall vastly short of compensating victims and their families for their losses. Our Asheville personal injury team is experienced in dealing with complex, difficult cases involving catastrophic losses like yours. Contact our personal injury firm today by phone or email to schedule a free initial consultation, where we can assess your case and help you develop a plan for getting help with your medical bills and other damages.